March 24, 2014

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Utah County Gavel Company Fills a Unique Niche

By Devin Felix

March 24, 2014

Springville – Dave Giles is a soft-spoken, unassuming man with a business that serves people in some very loud and assuming situations. Giles makes every gavel that is pounded by the celebrity du jour during the ceremonial closing or opening of the New York Stock Exchange. He also makes every gavel wielded during the Democratic National Convention every four years.

Giles is the owner of The Gavel Store, a company that makes and sells custom gavels from a small workshop in an industrial area of Springville. It’s a niche business, but he’s been able to make a living from gavels since the mid-1990s thanks to an early presence on the internet and quality craftsmanship.

In 1996, the early days of online commerce, Giles recognized the potential of the internet for reaching a huge range of potential customers, a necessity for selling niche products. Now he just needed a product. He soon got the idea of selling gavels. Giles’ father had been co-owner of a mill in Provo, and he had made and given away gavels to local organizations as a way to promote the mill’s larger woodworking jobs.

"I was looking for some extra pocket change and I put some gavels on the internet,” Giles said. “About a week later I had an order. And the rest was history.”

Most of the gavels he sells are intended as gifts to congratulate new board chairs, presidents or others in leadership positions. He also makes and sells the sound blocks people strike the gavel against, as well as commemorative plaques and other trophies. About a quarter of his business is produced for Masonic organizations around the world.

Giles sells gavels in a variety of styles and sizes, from miniature to a 36-inch decorative gavel. The traditional wood used for gavels is walnut, though oak is also common. The Gavel Store also sells gavels made of rosewood, acrylic, glass and other materials.

In addition to traditional designs, Giles has made gavels with heads in the shape of houses, apples, baseballs, barrels, bullets, nuts and bolts, and many others. He was commissioned by the state of Alabama to make a gavel with a peanut-shaped head, in honor of the state's peanut crop, and by the state of Idaho to make one shaped like a potato. “We’ve done everything you can imagine,” Giles said. “I’ll make most anything, as long as I’m capable of producing it.”

The Gavel Store operates out of small shop in Springville, where he has several lathes to do his woodworking. About eight years ago he installed a 14-foot long gavel on the building. This helped cut down on the number of confused people who came looking for gravel.

Giles says that, while he doesn’t expect his business will ever make him rich, he loves the work and hopes to continue well into the future.

“It’s been a fun business,” he says. “Everything else I’ve done has always had stress and demands. With this you just plug along. You make a gavel and you send it on its way.”

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